OverviewTuolumne Peak is a fractured granite, twin summited peak near the geographic center of Yosemite National Park. The two summits are connected by an northeast-southwest running knife edged ridge line (with a great deal of exposure on the north side) with the summit register and survey marker located on the northeast summit. Just below and north of the northeast summit is a summit plateau with a couple of more small crags surrounding it. The peak is located approximately 2.5 miles northeast of Mount Hoffmann via a picturesque granite ridge line. It can be reached from the south via May Lake, the southwest in a traverse from Mount Hoffmann, or from the northeast via the Murphy Creek and Ten Lakes trails. It is not climbed nearly as often as its neighbor to the southwest, probably due to a less obvious and tougher approach. The vistas from this peak are as spectacular as the views from other peaks in Yosemite.
Getting ThereThe usual jumping off point is the May Lake trailhead. This is also the shortest route. Approximately 26 miles east of the Crane Flat junction and approximately 12 miles west of Tuolumne Meadows along CA State Route 120 (Tioga Pass Road) is the sign for the turn off to May Lake on the north side of the road. This road will take you 2 miles along a rough rough road to the trail head. Note: this road opens later, up to a month later,than the main highway. Access can also be gained via the Murphy Creek Trail across from Tenaya Lake approximately 6 miles east of the May Lake turnoff. A third option is located at a parking area about half a mile east of the May Lake turn off near the T-22 marker. This will add about 1.6 miles of hiking along the Snow Flat trail.
Red TapePARK ENTRANCE FEE: Yosemite National Park is part of the US National Park Service and an entrance fee is charged. The most common way to enter the park is by vehicle for a $20 entrance fee good for 7 days, $10 if on foot, bicycle or motorcycle. Check the Yosemite National Park fee web site for the latest fees. As with all US National Parks, you also have several other options including an annual National Parks Pass, currently $50 and can be purchased on line. Or a specific annual Yosemite National Park Pass for $40.
Overnight Trip PermitsGenerally there's no reason to make this an overnighter (outside of winter that is) due to the short distance, however, if you are planning an overnight trip, you will need a Wilderness Permit since YNP has a trailhead-based quota system in place. At least 40% of the permits are available on a day-of or day-before basis. See the YNP Wilderness Permits Page for more information on how to reserve these permits by the Internet phone (209-962-7825), or mail. While the permit itself is free, if you wish to make an advance reservation, there is a nonrefundable $5 per person processing fee. Also, BEAR CANISTERS ARE NOW REQUIRED in most of Yosemite National Park. If you want something more plush you can stay at the May Lake High Sierra Camp which operates on a lottery basis. Applications are available between October 15 and November 30 annually. More information at the above link and the High Sierra Desk at (559) 253-5674
CampingFor those car camping, there are thirteen campgrounds in Yosemite National Park. Here is the YNP camping page. The closest campgrounds to the May Lake trail head are Porcupine Flat (no water) approximately 4 miles west of the May Lake turn off and Tuolumne Meadows approximately 12 miles east of the May lake turnoff. There are also a number of National Forest campgrounds just out side the park’s east, south and north entrances.
When To ClimbThis peak is generally climbed from the opening of Tioga Pass and it’s closing, generally late May through October.
Check the Official YNP Conditions Update webpage for the current weather and road closure status. This page also has a link to the National Weather Service 3-day and extended weather forecast which are published twice daily (4 am and 4 pm PDT).
EtymologyThe name is from a tribe of Indians that lived on the banks of the lower Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers, in the vicinity of Knights ferry. (Kroeber, 64) The tribe wsa called Taulamne - and also Tahualamne - by Padre Munoz. (Arch. MSB, vol. 4, Oct. 3, 1806, ff) The Moraga - Munoz party named the Tuolumne River the Delores, from the time of its discovery, October 1, the "Dolores of September," but that name did not prevail
Fremont and Preuss, on their 1845 map, mistakenly called the Tuolumne River the "Rio de los Merced." On the 1848 map, they corrected it to "Rio de los Towalumnes." The modern spelling is on Derby's 1849 map. It is said that the indians pronounced the word Tu-ah-lum'-ne. (Sanchez, 222)
The Whitney Survey named Tuolumne Meadows; the name is on Hoffmann and Gardiner's map, 1863-67. The falls was first named on Hoffmann's 1873 map, the peak on the Wheeler Survey atlas sheet 56D, 18787-79, and the pass on Lt. McClure's 1896 map. The grove had its name at least as early as the mid 1880s. (Hutchings, In the Heart, 327 (YNP) - Peter Browning, Place Names of the Sierra Nevada